Climbing Pen-y-Ghent: The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge – Review

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge mountain

By Kirsty Reid

“I promise this is the hardest bit,” says my boyfriend as I scramble over rocks determined to reach the top of Pen-y-Ghent. I’ll admit, when my other half suggested a weekend away, a hike in the Yorkshire Dales wasn’t really what I had in mind. But here we are, battling rain, wind, fog, and frizzy hair as we attempt to reach the top of the 691-metre high fell.

Our day began just a few hours earlier back in Selside, where we tucked into a delicious, cooked breakfast at Ginger and Wood. The luxurious B&B boasts a cosy lounge, a king-size bed and a modern bathroom with a walk-in shower. It has everything you need for a relaxing retreat – including Netflix.

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge selside

Selside marks the start of the walk

“Views here are spectacular”

After fuelling up on a full English, we pack our bags and set off on the four-mile drive to Pen-y-Ghent Cafe in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

The cafe marks the start of our trek, it is also the starting point for the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge, a 24-mile circuit which sees ramblers tackle three of the highest peaks in the county; Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in just 12 hours.

Over recent years, the challenge has made its way on to many people’s bucket lists, and it’s easy to see why – the views here are spectacular, but you do have to work for them.

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge sheep

A few spectators, before the climb begins

“Path rises very steeply”

What starts off as a steady, gentle stroll, soon becomes a steep, uphill climb and it’s not long before I need to stop for a breather. It’s at this point we are overtaken by an annoyingly fit fell-runner and his dog. After a quick drink, we’re back to it.

As we approach the summit, the path rises very steeply and becomes much less distinct. It’s here my partner attempts to spur me on. After a short, but tough, scrabble we finally reach the peak.

Pen-y-Ghent might be the lowest of the three peaks, but it is by no means any less impressive. The panoramic views are breathtaking – over to the west lies Ingleborough, second in height of the three peaks. While to the north-west Whernside, the highest.

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge trek

The road to Pen-y-Ghent

“Easy enough to follow”

While we have no plans to conquer Whernside (that’s a peak for another day), I’m keen to visit the famous Ribblehead Viaduct which lies at the foot of Whernside. So we head north-west, passing Hull Pot, the largest natural hole in England, along the way. From here, it’s a gentle descent across the peaceful, rolling countryside. The route is easy enough to follow, but if you’re not using an official guide, you may need a map to help you stay on the right track.

It’s about three hours before the viaduct finally comes into view. Located at the head of the River Ribble, the viaduct has 24 magnificent arches spanning the floor of the Pennines. It is an incredibly impressive feat. Ribblehead itself is a relatively remote area with only a railway station, a few houses and pub, The Station Inn – the perfect place for refuelling.

Climbing Pen-y-Ghent The Start of The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge ribblehead viaduct

The famous Ribblehead Viaduct


Tired from our venture, we head back towards our B&B to recuperate. Before today, rambling had never really appealed to me, but after seeing just how much the Dales has to offer, I’ll certainly be back, and who knows, next time I might even tackle all three peaks.

To find out more about the Yorkshire three Peak Challenge, visit:


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